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by James Graham 

Posted: 10 October 2004
Word Count: 241

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You arrive at the city over soaring moors.
The landmarks are white steadings, lighthouse-stark.
You seem at the edge of a different sky, and then

there is a land beyond the sky: the broad
electric meadow of the city, under the early stars,
its amber blossoms everywhere, sparse only far away
by the western ocean or the hills. I have no name

for the colours of the hills: not green,
not blue; they are the colour, I suppose,
of hillsides grassed and gorsed and marvelled at
in failing light, on this one night, a cool
rose-grey, a darkening rose. Apartment blocks
surround the college towers, like giants
that have wandered down from the romantic glens

and stand amazed. And I have seen
the water-meadows of this city too, sham tarns
that never heal, beaches for half-wild children
toying with paid-out audiotape and wrecks
and trademarked jetsam; and the apartment blocks,
cracked-windowed crates through which they squeal
with the scrawny timelessness of gulls. In the city's

scrambled heart, an old man crowned with a trampled hat
is fiercely pedalling. Beard like a mouse's nest,
he rides four lanes of motors. Presently his soft bag
quickens, and a black cat scales his dangerous shoulder,
rocking, goat-sure, tail like a pennon. I am native here

among the monuments to famous men
whose labour forces built the money-towers,
whose fighting forces have made desolation
out of cities such as this. I am aboriginal.

Glasgow 2004

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Comments by other Members

fireweed at 15:12 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
james, I'm so pleased that this is going to be published. It is a powerful poem and deserves a wider readership. Do you know when it will be posted - am I right in thinking that "Three Candles" is an internet magazine. I'd like to see it in its published context.


Nell at 15:32 on 10 October 2004  Report this post

I enjoyed this again, and it is 'still warm' in spite of not being new. Quality will always travel well in my opinion - and that American editor obviously knows it when he see it. Congratulations.


James Graham at 15:58 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
Thanks, both. Anna, just try the link to Three Candles, at the foot of my comment. I like the presentation on this site. It looks quite classy. It's worth exploring too - I've seen some good work there.


engldolph at 16:17 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Hi James,

Enjoyed this again, and left me with that same strong, lasting resonance of images and feeling about a soul from the Glasgow moors (or universalized to anyone, anywhere from countryside to city life) making an uneasy peace with the city ...eye and longing on the hills..

But this time I spent a bit more time looking at the unique Word Pairs you use ..the piece runs so smoothly, sometime you overlook the details that are the building blocks.. like:

soaring moors.
different sky,
land beyond
electric meadow
amber blossoms
failing light,
like giants
half-wild children
trademarked jetsam;
scrawny timelessness
scrambled heart,
trampled hat
dangerous shoulder,

Very much enjoyed again.

James Graham at 13:57 on 16 October 2004  Report this post
Mike, thanks for your positive comment. I have a lot of response from readers now and it's nearly always a reflection of what the poem and its subject signifies for me. Which seems to show that what has gone into the poem really does come out the other end - that it does communicate. And as you'll know yourself, that's very satisfying. As for word-pairs, I wasn't really aware of them as such - but they are a feature of the poem, maybe even produce a kind of rhythm over and above the ordinary rhythm.

Thanks again - I'll post a new poem soon.


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